Venturing Out on her Own

I recently had a friend remind me that she sends her kids out every day to play alone in their backyard. I got to thinking about it, and I realized that I played out in my backyard alone while I was growing up. And so did pretty much everyone I know. I did a poll on Facebook and within the first few minutes, I had several responses; everyone said they let their kids (Hula Girl’s age and even younger) go out in the backyard alone to play. I got to thinking- why haven’t I done this!??!

I guess I’m some kind of crazy overprotective mom. I know I am, actually. I don’t let my kids watch TV (although that’s mainly because of all the research that says it’s bad for kids). I don’t let them do Halloween. I never used the word “scared” or “afraid” until Hula Girl needed that word to describe how she personally felt because I didn’t want to plant ideas in her head. I edit books as I read out loud so that the characters say much nicer things to each other than the author really intended. I keep my kids at home with me 99% of the time, because I am terribly distrustful of the big bad world and I want our schedule and routine to be carefully observed.

Don’t get me wrong- I have a pretty solid plan for how I’m going to loosen up and grant more freedoms and expose my children to the not-so-nice aspects of life. But for now, I have decided that coccooning them away and keeping things positive is the best I can do to give them a strong foundation of security, love, and self-confidence. They are free to have big emotions in their small challenges without a lot of influences from the world around them telling them they’re not good enough, smart enough, big enough, loved enough, or brave enough.

Back to the backyard. I have never let Hula Girl go outside alone. Ever. Any time she’s gone out, I have been there. Part of this is that we have lived in houses with no privacy fence. This especially bothered me at our old house, where the man who lived across the utility easement behind our house was on the registered sex offenders list. We have no registered folks around our new house, but we still have just a wire fence- our neighbors to the right and left and anyone passing on the street behind our house has a full view of everything that’s going on in our yard. On top of that, we live in rattlesnake, tarantula, scorpion, black widow, brown recluse, and wolf spider territory. Oh, and our area does not require dogs to be fenced- we have several neighbors whose dogs roam free. Can you see why I have been worried about sending her out there? That means she’s never gotten to explore completely on her own. She has never been able to just tune completely in to whatever drives her fancy because I have been there talking to her. And I have never been able to just get a bunch of housework done without a “helper.”

My friend Katie sends her kids outside in the backyard, alone, a couple of times each day. And do you know what?! I have always been amazed at Katie’s seemingly remarkable ability to balance so many aspects of her life without DYING of exhaustion. How does she do it!?!?! She sends her kids outside!

Now, you guys all know me, and you know I’m a huge fan of involving the kids in whatever I’m doing in order to instill a good work ethic and to teach them how to do stuff. But I can never find the time to REALLY clean the house or get all the laundry washed, dried, folded, and put away. There are always a million other things to attend to, like helping a certain princess put on her costume or keeping a certain little wild man from destroying his sister’s block tower, all accompanied by higher-pitched-than-you’d-ever-imagined-possible shrieks and whines- some gleeful, others complaining, but always super loud and wow-that-popped-my-eardrums-high. So, I got brave.

Yesterday afternoon and evening, I spent about 45 minutes walking the perimeter of the fence and canvassing the rest of the backyard looking for potential issues with snakes, dogs, or spiders. I kicked away spider webs, I got rid of the giant tumbleweeds in the play area, and I looked for holes in the ground (there were none, thankfully). I also looked for any other kinds of hazards and cleared out some sharp metal things (the people who lived here before us had two little boys who littered the ground with their broken, discarded Matchbox cars).

Then this morning I told Hula Girl that I was going to let her play outside all by herself like a big girl and that she had to stay out five minutes. I brought out her chalk, her shovels and pails, and her bike helmet. I told her she was allowed to do whatever she liked, as long as she stayed in the backyard (like she could even open the fences anyway, but you never know). I reminded her that if she needed me, she needed to come to the patio door and knock. I opened the kitchen window so I could hear her. I set a timer for five minutes.

I thought she’d whine and call for me and ask me to come out. She did. For about thirty seconds.

I thought she’d stay right on the patio and maybe pull out her chalk. She did. For about thirty seconds.

She PLAYED like I have never seen her play. I did dishes as I watched her explore, drag her toys around, bury things in the dirt, and fling rocks all around. When five minutes was up, I opened the door and asked her if she was ready to come in or if she wanted to stay out. She wanted to stay out. 10 minutes later, she wanted to stay out longer. 10 more minutes… 10 more minutes… 10 more minutes… She ended up staying out 45 minutes before I told her we needed to come in so I could read to her before room time. I ended up doing dishes, sweeping the kitchen, planning preschool for the week, calling a friend, and drinking a cup of coffee!

We are planning on putting up a privacy fence around about half of the backyard. We’ll dig it down about a foot so hopefully that will keep most snakes out. Until then, I won’t let Gelato out on his own (especially not with the giant playset he loves to climb) and will be super cautious about letting Hula Girl out. But I do think this will be a wonderful new addition to our daily routine.

Thank you Katie for helping me see the value of outside alone time! 🙂

 

 

Trashin’ the Camp

I love Phil Collins. Tarzan’s a pretty good flick, too.

Anyway.

When we were in California, Hula Girl slept on a foam mattress with some extra padding in the form of blankets and pillows. She had some sheets and blankets over the top of her, and of course she had her three very special blankets and Daisy. She slept in Ama and Papa’s office. We thought it’d be okay because Ama and Papa took out all the tempting items and hid several others in drawers. I didn’t think Hula Girl would go so far as to open drawers in Ama and Papa’s office.

Hula Girl also had a hard time falling asleep while we were there because she could turn on the light and she could open the door (she can’t do either of those things here at home). So we got into a bit of the bedtime mania that many families with toddlers/preschoolers face. We ended up taking away special blankies, and even Daisy one night, in order to drive in the point that she needs to be staying in bed and going to sleep at bedtime.

But one naptime she just didn’t feel like sleeping. She felt like exploring. This happened in about 30 minutes:

Hula Girl ingested about three boxes of these before deciding she'd hide some under her blankets for a bedtime snack.

Hula Girl ingested about three boxes of these before deciding she’d hide some under her blankets for a bedtime snack. (My father-in-law shops at Costco.) She also apologized to Ama for putting several of those “beans” in her mouth and then spitting them back into the box. 

Here's the view from the corner by the foot of her bed. Note various office supplies strewn all over the floor.

Here’s the view from the corner by the foot of her bed. Note various office supplies strewn all over the floor. This does not show the chapstick and glue sticks she smeared into the carpet and all over the sides of the desks and file cabinets. Did you also notice three pairs of scissors? Fortunately she didn’t cut her hair… this time. And note the pile of Tic Tacs by the potty. 

I guess we can just be relieved she decided to scribble on a part of the desk that won't be seen by anyone? Yes, and it's permanent.

I guess we can just be relieved she decided to scribble on a part of the desk that won’t be seen by anyone? Yes, and it’s permanent. She also chose to color the bindings of several photo albums on the bookshelf. My sister-in-law said they’re not the very special ones. Still.

 

It took three adults and one preschooler about 30 minutes to clean this all up. Ama and Papa’s desk things went into boxes to be stored in the garage until the Tornado had gone home.

Hardest part of this whole thing? Trying desperately not to laugh when Ama walked Hula Girl back into the room and said, “Now you need to sit down and take the pennies off the bottom of your socks.”

 

Hula Girl’s Art Table

Hula Girl and I do not see eye-to-eye when it comes to “projects.” I tend to have a finished vision in mind and she couldn’t care less. She is much more interested in the process and discovery than the actual product. She LOVES to paint, color, tape, glue, and make a mess. A huge mess. There is some innate sense of hatred of paint that resides deep in my soul. Every time we pull out paints (water colors, tempera paints, finger paints, doesn’t matter), I end up a stressed-out ball of frayed angry nerves and I don’t tend to mother with very much gentleness or grace. I don’t know what it is about paint that does this to me.

And it’s not just paint. Hula Girl puts everything in her mouth. I mean, EVERYTHING. (I’m actually looking into this from a more medical/psychological point of view right now because I mean it when I say she puts everything in her mouth.) She knows that she’s not supposed to, but she does it. From the very first of our art endeavors, when I handed then-10-month-old Hula Girl some crayons and a piece of paper and proudly posted pictures of the scribbles all over Facebook, to our most recent watercolor masterpiece at the easel encounter, she has had her supplies taken from her for putting them in her mouth. I am not kidding. I have had to stop the activity or take supplies each and every time we have ever attempted art, because she is always tasting and sampling and chewing and licking and spitting. Drives.me.crazy. (My poor mother-in-law has had to hear all about this over and over. Sorry, Momma C.) Thank goodness kids’ art supplies are generally considered non-toxic (although you’d have to pay me a LOT of money before I’d admit that maybe the artificial dyes aren’t so bad after all…)

Anyway.

I have been wanting to test a theory. I have been pondering the idea that perhaps Hula Girl has been so obsessed with putting art supplies in her mouth partially because she knows it makes me so upset. What if I just gave her free access to them and didn’t care about what she actually does with them? What if I just let her go for it using whatever supplies she wanted to use to create anything she wanted to create? Would we still have the mouthing issue? I have been talking it over with Jonathan and he said we could create an art space for Hula Girl somewhere in the house.

Then, last Friday we were given a free “art table” for children. It looks like this. Some random neighbor we’ve never talked to before chased me down when I was out on a walk with the kids (actually, I was terrified about this random person running behind me!), and she offered the art desk to us since she doesn’t have any kids. I said we’d take a look at it, and once we did, we knew we had to have it.

Since it was used, Hula Girl and I spent some time on Saturday afternoon washing it and making it a bit more presentable (we removed the white board section before we soaped it up). It wasn’t in really bad shape, but it had some writing on the white board that was done in permanent marker, and it was a bit dusty. Hula Girl was a great help when we were washing it. I gave her a sponge and let her go for it. She ended up with mud all over her feet, a trend that continued throughout the weekend. (Mud messes I can handle; paint messes, not so much. Weird?)

I ran to Walmart (our favorite store, duh) and stocked up. Like, STOCKED UP. Hula Girl now has access to white board crayons, regular crayons, markers, watercolor paints, colored pencils, regular pencils, erasers, tape, glue, scissors, paper, and stickers. I am planning to add playdough (homemade), 3-D supplies (like egg cartons, etc.), and chalk. I will also add other supplies, and specialized supplies (like glitter crayons), as she gets older.

She has been busy. She has spent 2.5 hours total over the past three days just cutting. My floor is covered in little tiny scraps of paper. But she is busy and happy and she feels that the work she is doing is very important. She keeps putting stickers on paper and cutting them in half so that Jonathan and I can “learn what happens.” She has painted, colored, taped, and written the letter “N” over and over. Absolutely nothing I would have wanted to do in my supplies-hating heart.

And do you want to know something else? She has not put any of her supplies in her mouth, with one exception. She put the glue stick on her lips because it reminded her of chapstick. She hasn’t done that since. 🙂

 

Natural Consequences 1, Hula Girl 0

So. This morning Hula Girl was waiting downstairs while I went upstairs to get her a cute outfit for storytime. I wanted her to look extra special since, after all, it is VALENTINE’S WEEK! (Yes, Valentine’s Day is awesome and I have always liked it and now that I have a house that I can decorate in PINK for at least a month a year with a legit reason, well, it’s even better.)

As I was coming back down the stairs, I heard Hula Girl start to gag and cough a bit. I figured she had eaten something awfully bad for a toddler to eat, so I stepped up my pace. I realized that we had just painted her toenails, and she has always had a fascination with the nail polish… what if she drank some?!? I started to sprint down the stairs two at a time. Then I heard, “I am going to YO UP!” (That’s toddlerspeak for THROW UP.) Three at a time.

I finally found her in the kitchen (after about 4.2 seconds since this all started, but it seemed like 4.2 hours because when your kid is gagging and coughing and crying about throwing up, time sssslllllloooooowwwwwwsssss dooooooowwwwwwnnnnnn and you can’t move fast enough no matter how hard you try). I asked her what happened… and then I looked down. And I cracked up. And took a picture, naturally.

Yummy.

Yummy.

 

Her breath was atrocious after this incident. She kept telling me that the basil made her sick. She calls all spices basil. I am so glad this was the culprit, and not the red nail polish. Sheesh, I really need to do a better job of keeping my kitchen counters cleared off. 

Adding a New Family Member

Well, we’re six months into our life with Gelato, and I have learned a lot of stuff. A lot a lot. While I was growing up, I always admired women in their 50s and beyond because I recognized the amount of wisdom they possessed. I had no clue exactly what path they had to take in order to arrive at this place of wisdom… I just figured it came with the grays. However, now that I’m a mommy again, I feel like I have probably aged about 10 years in six months and I am starting to realize exactly what kinds of things those women have gone through in order to be deemed wise.

I belong to an online group of moms who use the Babywise series to help inform and guide their parenting strategies. Several of the moms had newborns right around the time Gelato was born. It is fun to have a group of babies around the same age! However, now there is a new wave of newborns flooding the group, and it’s fun to go back and address some of the crazy stuff we’ve just been through- I feel like I have at least some understanding and some ideas about how to make it work!

One of my friends in the group has a son about six months younger than Hula Girl, and she just had another son about six months after Gelato was born! In fact, the spacing between both sets of our kids is 26 months. She posted a question recently asking how on earth she could handle her older son’s behavior now that she’s so tied down with the newborn. She also explained that she was feeling so very overwhelmed with the whole thing- a toddler and a newborn are hard to handle!

I decided I wanted to share my response to her here on my blog so that one day when it gets made into a blog book and my very own daughter (or daughter-in-law) goes through the same thing, she will have some of my own personal wisdom… as well as some understanding that she, too, made her Mama’s life difficult for a time. 🙂

Part of my friend’s issues with her older toddler were just crazy two-year-old behavior. The example she gave was that he took all the flowers out of a vase and drank the water. EEW! My kid’s never done anything always doing stuff like that (remember the time when she emptied a container of hand soap into her shoe?… or this morning, when I came down from putting Gelato down for his nap to find a kitchen full of frozen peas and corn!!! ) For anonymity’s sake, I’ve abbreviated her kids’ names- G is the older son, J is the newborn.

Before I address your more pressing question of how to deal with G, here are the things that I have been (slowly, painfully) learning in the last 6 months. In order. 🙂 It really truly helps to have a good perspective before deciding how you are going to handle the situation. (And before we all start thinking I’m awesome or anything… lol… I FAILED MISERABLY on at least 3 occasions that I can remember as clearly as if they just happened a second ago, along with at least 1000 other occasions that all blend together in one mommy’s-done-lost-her-mind fog. So, take my advice/ideas with a few grains of salt!)
1. Very short-term thinking- I adopted this phrase as my mantra in the very early newborn days when both kids were crying at the same time and I couldn’t leave Hula Girl alone for more than 3 minutes but couldn’t just ignore Gelato, either: “Everything will be different 20 minutes from now.” I really did have to take my days and break them down into 20-minute segments and allow myself to feel hope that whatever stressful situation I was currently in would be over 20 minutes from then. Sometimes, it was an even more stressful situation! But it was different.
2. Courage- I realized I was operating in fear 99% of my day- always nervous that “something” might happen: Gelato might wake early (he did most of the time from 9-24 weeks); Hula Girl might throw a tantrum (rare, but sometimes); our dinner might not be ready on time (who am I kidding… dinner is NEVER ready on time); I might not get any sleep ever again for the rest of my life (I have resigned myself to this one); life might always be this hard (I expect it likely gets harder); etc. But my daily readings brought me across 1 Peter and I was reminded that we are facing all kinds of things to develop perseverance. So for the next few months, my new mantra was “I am not afraid.” I needed to let go of that huge knot of terror and tension that I held buried in my lower chest/upper stomach region and just relax and know that God was not going to let me drown. It may be flipping uncomfortable, but there is no need to FEAR what “might” happen. I think this is hard because we’ve got such ideals in our heads. But I realized that what I feared was failure… as if a small baby’s short naps somehow indicated that I was substandard or that somehow I would never measure up to full mommy potential. I was afraid that I would NEVER be the mom I was supposed to be. But that is simply untrue. I am the mom I’m supposed to be. Already. My children are not supposed to have any other mother but me, and God has made it that way, and I trust him, and that’s it! I AM the mother they’re supposed to have. And you are the mother G and J (and Africa baby!) are supposed to have. That’s just how it is! So what is there to be afraid of?!
3. Perseverance- Ironically, 1 Peter played itself out pretty quickly in my life. All those trials during those months truly DID develop perseverance in me. My new mantra, one that I am repeating to moms all over the world right now, is “We can do hard things.” I can do hard things. Being a mom is HARD. But oh, well. I got this. I can do hard things. Sometimes it’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and doing it. Like, tonight, I cleaned my house while Jonathan made dinner. That was HARD. We have a sick toddler and a baby who was just plain off schedule all day. On a Friday. Of the longest week ever. Did I feel like cleaning!? Heck, no. But I can do hard things. So I did it. That’s a stupid example. But that’s where I am right now. Yeah, it’s hard. But I can do hard things. It was really difficult not to BEG my husband to stay home from work today so I didn’t have to face the day alone. But he had a lot of clients scheduled and I can do hard things. So I sent him off to work with a kiss and a smile, put on my game face, and made today work. I did hard things.
So there you have it. Short-term thinking, courage, and perseverance. That’s where I am now.
As far as actually handling G’s behavior. Well.
If I can recall correctly, G is pretty cheerful and obedient. That’s GREATLY to your advantage. You know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this side of him is NOT normal and that he is using his behavior to express something that his little newly-two brain can’t seem to express verbally. Think of his behaviors as a new language… and that will get you somewhere. At least you’ll have more patience when trying to interpret what’s really going on.
I have found that a physically intense type of discipline is very important right now. I don’t mean spanking or yanking or grabbing or pulling… I mean VERY gentle hands redirecting, sometimes even without words, ALL THE TIME. I know it’s literally impossible to be hands-on with G right now for a lot of the time because you’re tied down nursing J. But while J is napping, be over-the-top hands-on with G. I find myself withdrawing from physical touch during the newborn days because SO much of my touch need is filled just through nursing, rocking, etc., with the baby. Jonathan has commented on it and I have to work SO hard to reach out to him… imagine what it’s like for our little 2-year-olds who used to be the sole recipient of that touch all day, every day… and now it’s withdrawn and redirected toward some strange little blob who cries, eats, and poops. Yeah.
So when I say physical discipline, I don’t mean just corrective stuff. I mean guiding, teaching, shaping, correcting, and training. Like, I will make up excuses to touch Hula Girl throughout the day in a positive way so that we have less behaviors to deal with. We started doing a daily massage/singing time. She’s old enough now to enjoy a short backrub while I sing her one song. Then she’s up and out of my lap before I can even think of another song to sing… but that’s okay! 🙂 I do hand-over-hand when teaching her to use a knife. I touch her knees while we’re sitting in the doctor’s office waiting to be called. We play patty-cake. I stroke her hair about 100 million times a day. I give her giant bear hugs when I come to get her in the morning and after her nap. Sometimes while she’s eating her dinner, I’ll reach over and poke her pinky finger with mine. Touch, touch, touch, touch, touch!!!
Another idea is to challenge him. If you see him drinking the water (or doing something that’s not exactly a HUGE deal), you might say something like, “Oh, I see you’re thirsty. I wonder if you could drink TWO cups of water!?!” Then fill a couple of cups about halfway to see if he can do it. (Of course he can.) Praise his efforts to meet your challenge. Laugh with him when you challenge him to do something kind of silly. It’s a subtle redirection of whatever behavior is on display. It shows him that you are paying attention to him and thinking of him, too.
When the behavior is really egregious and NEEDS to be addressed, I have found that using a combination of touch and whispers really helps downplay the emotions of the moment. I take her gently by the hand, bring her onto my lap and whisper to her about how it is sad that she chose to perform that behavior and what I would like to have seen instead. Then we practice the correct behavior. I DO NOT USE TIME OUT at all because so much of her behavior is driven by wanting my attention and feeling like she can’t have it… I feel like time out would only reinforce that thought and make her try harder.
When you’re locked in an all-out battle of wills, I suggest being the bigger person and demonstrating to him how to bow out gracefully. And by that I mean, how to break the tension. Pull a funny face, do a silly dance, even stop and take a picture of the two of you together. Throw him for a loop.

Finally, and this is CRITICAL- let G be HANDS-ON with J. Yep, he’ll be rough. Yep, you’ll find yourself saying “gentle!” over and over and over and over and over. I have found Gelato squished under Hula Girl several times. Meh. He’s tough. He can take it. As long as G isn’t doing anything that is harmful, allow him space to “meet” his brother. He craves a relationship with J, too. After all, he is very curious about who this little person is… and you MUST get out of the way so he can get acquainted. But any time G asks to hold him, LET HIM! (I love the relationship I see between my children already. Today, Gelato babbled something in the car and Hula Girl said, “He’s talking to me. He’s telling me how much he loves me. And I love him, too.”) I am a FIRM believer in just letting them be together on their own terms- supervised by me as an observer only as much as possible. It is important to reaffirm that they have equal standing and have every right to have a relationship that does not always involve MY intervention.

 

I’m a Bad Parent (a.k.a. M.Y.O.B.)

So this Tuesday we had a snowstorm. Of course, all eight inches are already melted and we aren’t expecting any more snow any time soon. Such is the weather in Colorado. Anyway.

Tuesday morning I woke up and saw that we had about a quarter inch of snow outside, and that more was falling. How exciting! I woke Hula Girl and told her there was a surprise for her outside. We opened the curtains and she rejoiced at the idea that she would get to eat some snow. As soon as we could manage it, we got all bundled up and headed outside for a romp. It was only a couple hours after I first woke up and looked out, but 4 more inches had already fallen. I shoveled a path from the front door to the car (ahem, Jonathan, the garage still needs to be cleaned out so I can park the car INSIDE!!!!), and then we headed back inside so Hula Girl could have her roomtime and I could nurse Gelato. I asked Hula Girl whether she would like to stay home and play in the snow or go to storytime. She debated for a while but she finally chose storytime. Fine.

On the way to storytime as I was driving on roads that were six inches deep (our little area of town does not get plowed due to some weird secession failure issues) and I stopped and called my mom to see if she thought I really should take the kids to storytime at all. She said go for it. We were already halfway there, and even if no one else was there, we could always go home. Fortunately when we pulled into the parking lot, I recognized three cars that belong to moms with toddlers. So I knew we’d at least get a mini playgroup if nothing else.

As I was getting Gelato out of the car (I always get him out first and put him in last- he’s a bit more “contained” than Hula Girl is at the moment), this random lady walked by me in one of those old long quilted coats, like the one my third-grade teacher wore every day to recess. She had a knit cap on her head and she was carrying a large satchel. And she said, “What the h— are you doing bringing your children to the library on a day like this?!?!?!”

I was flummoxed at first- I wasn’t sure if she was making a sideways comment about the weather being so terrible. After all, sometimes I do the same kind of thing. I’ll comment on something not extremely related to be kind of jokey about whatever situation I find myself in with a random stranger. (For example, when stuck in a slow checkout line, I might turn to the person in front of me and say something like, “Well, it’s not like we’re going to be watching the Broncos in the Super Bowl, so there’s really no need for us to hurry home!”) You know, just a little tension-breaker so that a) the clerk doesn’t feel so awful and rushed, which inevitably leads to mistakes and even LONGER waits, b) the other person doesn’t get all huffy and treat the clerk with disdain, and c) I have someone to talk to that is not 2.5 years old.

Anyway, I responded to her strange comment with a lighthearted, “Yeah, what was I thinking? This snow is crazy!” I thought she’d laugh with me and be on her merry way.

Wrong.

She continued on to tell me that she wouldn’t dream of endangering her dear children’s lives by taking them out on a day like this, that I was obviously lacking judgment, that I should be concerned about my driving skills, that I should worry about other people’s driving skills, that I should feel awful about forcing those poor children (who obviously HATE leaving the house in any kind of weather other than sunshine… NOT) to get dressed and go out when they should be peacefully nestled in their beds enjoying a nice long sleep-in. Obviously I am a terrible mother who is less than qualified and I need to get my priorities straight. After all, going out in such awful weather proves that I am very selfish and I really have no regard for my children’s needs, desires, feelings, or dreams. I am ruining my children forever by bringing them to storytime.

I kept a smile on my face. I remarked that I grew up here so I am used to the weather conditions. I explained that I felt confident in my driving skillz (and my avoiding other drivers skillz). I established the fact that my children had not, in fact, been begging to stay in bed; rather, they had both been awake since 5:30 a.m. Finally I said (quite winningly, I imagine), “Well, storytime waits for no one, so I had better get my kids inside! Have a nice day!”

The lady walked into the library in a huff.

Then came the penultimate nail in my “good mom” coffin. When Hula Girl gets in the car, I make her take off her coat to get strapped in. Then I turn it backward and put it over her arms so she stays warm. Safety first. Since we were literally less than twenty steps from the library doors, I let Hula Girl choose whether she wanted to wear her coat or leave it in the car. She chose to leave it in the car. Fine with me. As my little chickadee squeaked in through the rapidly-closing automatic doors, the snide woman turned to see what was happening… and said, “OH MY GOSH. SHE DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A COAT?!!?”

M.Y.O.B., Self-Appointed Library-Monitor. M.Y.O.B.

Bowls of Rice

Be warned: this post contains a confession of one of my strangest eccentricities. Don’t mock.

Rice holds a special place in my life right now. It is the staple of my diet. It is also saving my technology (I hope).

The elimination diet is going fine. I am hungry a lot… mostly because I don’t feel like cooking a vegetable and so all I can really eat is Rice Chex or fruit. Come on, Kim… it takes 8 minutes to microwave a potato. For realz. I will stop complaining about that right now. But since Monday I have eaten more bowls of rice (or rice cereal) than I had in the past month combined… so yeah, bowls of rice.

My cell phone was ceremoniously (and maddeningly purposefully) placed into a toddler pool in our backyard this morning by one age-appropriately-testing-her-limits toddler. Not once… twice.

I left my phone and umbrella on a chair next to her pool to run over to the back door (like, ten feet away, don’t freak out on me and call CPS) to get her towel. In the 3 seconds it took me to glance away, open the door, and return, she had grabbed my cell phone and dunked it. I saw that it was dripping wet, and I said the only thing a rational very upset parent says in a time like this, “Did you put my phone in the water?!?!” Um, duh, of course she did. What a stupid question. And of course it elicited the very best behavior in my child… as all stupid questions/responses to actions tend to do.

So she smiled, said, “[Hula Girl] put Mommy’s phone in the pool!!!” and crouched down to do it again. She was so gentle about it, she might as well have been returning a sea turtle to its natural habitat. But I…was…livid… so I did the next obvious thing: I sprinted across the backyard, over the rocky rocky ground, barefoot, 35 weeks pregnant, and grabbed the phone from the bottom of the pool. Then I engaged in the closest to yelling at my child I’ve ever done. I got a very firm and very loud voice (still not yelling… but I wish it had been softer) and said, “You must say sorry to me. You are not supposed to touch my phone! Now it’s broken!”

Typical two-year-old that she is, she did not say sorry. No, no. She turned, grabbed my water bottle, and drank out of it. Let me elaborate on why this sent me to the moon (in my head) and I almost raised my voice to a real yell.

See, Ido not share water bottles, chapstick, or food withanyone, not even my own child. Jonathan has learned to stay FAR away from my glasses of lemonade, and if he wants to surprise me with a Hershey’s bar, he’d better go ahead and get one for himself because there’s NO WAY he’s getting part of mine. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. I can’t handle the thought of germs spreading through mouth-contact. (To be fair, this is majorly hyped up when I’m pregnant-hormones, people! But yes, I do let Jonathan kiss me… as long as his lips don’t leave a wet spot on mine… I will wipe my lips for days if that happens.)

K, so kid not only doused my only contact with the outside world in death-juice (aka water), but she slurped all over the mouthpiece of my water bottle with her toddler germs. As I fought back a wave of nausea, I had to be super firm with myself in order to gently and nicely take my water bottle away. But in the course of doing so, I asked stupid question number two: “Did you just drink out of my water bottle!? Seriously?!”

And in true toddler form, she grinned wickedly (or maybe just mischievously), and answered, “Yes, ee-yus-ee, Mommy.”

And then I forgave her a little. ‘Cuz that’s probably one of the smartest cutest things I’ve heard her say in a while.

So we held hands and she looked at my face while I explained to her the importance of not touching my things. I told her it made me sad and that she needs to say sorry. She said sorry this time. We hugged, and then she proceeded to empty her pool in the hopes of drowning all our flowers with the watering can.

Our saga ends with my sad cell phone sitting in yet another bowl of rice. I am hoping, praying, that it turns out okay and was not super damaged. I’m pretty sick of rice right now.

 

Surgery Week Update- Tuesday

If you have missed the weekend and the Monday posts, feel free to scroll down and read those posts first. 🙂

Tuesday morning was another crazy morning. It had actually snowed Monday night-Tuesday morning, and it kept snowing all day on Tuesday. The roads were completely covered with ice in the morning. I have lived here long enough to know that we can have 80 degree weather one day and snow the next, but the really thick ice convinced me that I needed to leave a bit early for our pre-op appointment with the pediatric opthalolmologist at… you guessed it… 9:00 a.m. (WHY did I schedule these appointments for 9:00 if I know she gets out of bed at 8:00? Well, when I scheduled them, we were still on DST -or were we off DST?- and her waketime during the winter is 7:30. Silly me, forgetting DST.)

So I ended up getting her out of bed slightly early Tuesday, sticking her in the snow-covered car, and crawling to the office. We got there about 15 minutes early, used the potty, and got to see the doctor early as well. That was nice! Hula Girl did not, however, get to eat her breakfast there… so we brought it in the car.

We headed to Walmart after the appointment to pick up prescription antibiotic eye drops so that we can start them ahead of the surgery. Then we went to the mall to play on the foam play center thing there. Finally, we stopped by to see my dad at his office, but we didn’t get much of a chance to see him because he had too many patients (yay for him, bummer for us). All in all, I took her breakfast away from her at 11:30 that morning, gave her milk at 11:40, and fed her lunch at 12:15. Kind of squished in there, but that’s what had to happen. I do regret the fact that she was so hungry much of the morning, because she really does behave much more poorly when she’s hungry. We had a few (very preventable, had she eaten) meltdowns that were just plain not pretty.

Tuesday evening was fun since Hula Girl was being silly and playing with her Grampy a lot. As she gets older, she is more interested in playing with him, and vice-versa. It’s nice to see the two of them goofing off together. He gave her her bath and then all three of us (Grammy, Grampy, and I) put her to bed. She liked the family time.

Then my mom and I went through boxes and boxes of baby boy clothes and picked out some for Gelato. Let me tell you, we are not going to have to buy this kid any clothes at all during his first year of life outside Mommy. It is also strange to see such tiny garments again since I’m used to Hula Girl’s clothes being the smallest in the house. I can’t imagine that she was ever that small. And then I get all giddy thinking about cuddling such a tiny little gnome again! Can’t wait for August!

Pregnancy Brain Much?

Those of you who know me in person know that I’m not always the most organized individual. For instance, I have a well-established track record of losing and then finding my debit card and driver’s license at least 7 times a year. For weeks, if not months, at a time. My propensity for losing things and/or critical information seems to be enhanced during my pregnancies. In fact just this last weekend I found my debit card which I had been looking for since the end of October. Fortunately (?) for me, it is a rare store clerk who will ask to see ID* any longer, and so I just take Jonathan’s card if I know I’ll be purchasing anything.

*Jamba Juice, however, always asks to see id, even if you’re using a debit card. They run it as a credit card, and apparently debit/credit card thieves like to quench their thirst on the way to the ATM to empty your savings account.

Now, I’ve done other dumb stuff during my pregnancies. Jonathan’s least favorite is when I completely forget everything he and I said in a conversation less than 10 minutes after said conversation occurred. Sometimes I’ll even tell him the same story 3 different times in one evening. Or I’ll totally forget that he asked me to do ________ that day, and when he asks about it, I will swear up and down and all around that he never asked me to do so. But I definitely believe him, and not me.

Well, this morning was no different than any other morning in my fuzzy foggy pregnancy land. I locked Hula Girl and myself out of the house. Completely. On purpose.

See, we went to visit my parents at the end of last week and stayed through the weekend. The fun part was that I surprised Jonathan by having my parents keep Hula Girl overnight on Thursday and through the day on Friday so that he and I could have a belated Valentine’s date Thursday evening and get to the OB/GYN’s office for Gelato’s monthly appointment early Friday morning. My mom decided that instead of moving the carseat from our car to her car, it would be easier to just trade cars. (Score! We got to use the heated seats on our Valentine’s date!) So I took my house key off my key ring, shoved it into a pocket in my bag, grabbed the garage door opener, and left. And since I had the garage door opener, I didn’t move the house key out of the bag pocket. No need.

Fast forward to this morning. House key still in bag pocket. I grab Hula Girl, her wagon, my cell phone, and my key ring, and head out the front door, making sure to lock it behind me. Then I went to place Hula Girl in the wagon and noticed that the front-facing seat was still wet from when I hosed it down yesterday, so I thought I’d dash into the garage to grab something to wipe it down with. Take out the keys…. and nothing useful. Car key? Check. Mom and Dad’s house key? Check. Uncle John’s house key**? Check. So I start freaking out and saying, “Oh, no… oh, no… oh, noo….,” and thinking of ways to break into our house.***

**For reference on why that is so ridiculous, my Uncle John lives in Orange County, California. And I haven’t used his house key since I stayed with him while I was in my senior year of college… five years ago.
***Certain former neighbors of mine will remember the day they had to help me break into our house last summer/fall. YES, I have always been this way. But YES again, I am blaming it on my pregnancy brain now. You can laugh all you want, but remember that if anyone gets blamed for any damage to that window screen, I couldn’t have done it alone.
Alas, I came up totally empty-handed (or empty-brained) when it came to solving this issue without husband-intervention. So, I called him up at work, which I have never done before since his boss scares me, and asked him to please come rescue us at his earliest convenience. But if his earliest convenience isn’t right now, then I’d like him to come right now.
See, here’s the kicker: Hula Girl was out there in her undies and fleece pants, with no diapers or extra undies or any way of getting comfortable in the event of an accident. I can just imagine the conversation at the Mommy meet-up: “Oh, yes, potty training was going so well until I took her outside and her pants froze to her bottom. She was kind of reluctant after that…”
Fortunately weweredressed for the (windy, cold) weather. And I had intended to take Hula Girl on a wagon ride around the block to get some exercise. Apparently the OB/GYN doesn’t think chasing after a 20-month-old is enough exercise… remind me to deal with that one in another post. So we got TWO laps around the block, which is more exercise than I thought it’d be. And then Jonathan saved our lives.
Unfortunately I don’t see this problem going away any time soon… until August at least. (And those who know me really well will likely agree with me when I say that this problem might be a lifelong issue that will never be resolved..) In the meantime, do any of you have tips/tricks to help keep your brain intact during these troublesome months? Much appreciated.
After a preview, it has come to my attention that my post has really weird spacing issues happening today, occurring around things in italics. So yes, I did mean to put spaces there… they’re typed in and everything. It’s just displaying weird.
And I still haven’t put the key back on the ring! I just realized it! Someone please facebook me at around 9:30 tonight and remind me to replace the key on the ring!

Doh-dee-mime Success!

Well, this week’s storytime provided me plenty of reasons to chuckle.

Remember last week’s storytime?

This week was pretty much the polar opposite. The first thing I noticed when I arrived at the library with Hula Girl was a brand-spankin’-new poster, the size of the window in the door, stating:

Our Storytimes have Changed!

Bumblebees (0-15 months) Mondays at 10

Time for Tots (15 months – 3 years) Tuesdays at 10 and 10:30

Something Cutesy that I can’t Remember (3-5 years) Wednesdays at 10

Yes, they reprinted the poster, made it about 4 times as large, and stuck it right there on the front door of the children’s wing. Teehee.

The next thing that made me feel giddy was today’s handout. The theme listed at the very top was “Quiet” and the sign language showed the sign for quiet. Our books for the day were The Quiet Book and Shhhhh. I am pretty sure Miss Kirsten was planning to follow last week’s “Noise” theme with this week’s “Quiet” theme anyway, but it just made today’s theme seem so ironic.

There was one part of storytime that frustrated me- the loud discussion held by some moms prior to the start of storytime. They were talking about last week and how one mom’s children were the ones to blame for the pandemonium. I will admit, one mom did bring in 4 of those boys over 4, but that does not mean that the other moms then have the right to discuss her parenting style, children’s behavior, or rights without her present. I think I have not noticed much “mom gossip” because I have intentionally kept Hula Girl and myself mostly at home during her life (even though I am well aware that it exists everywhere- after all, these are the same ladies with whom we all went to high school and if gossip reigns there, why would it stop when we all grow up?). It just really bugged me that these ladies felt the need and the right to have that very demeaning conversation right then and there, including acting out scenes and pretentiously describing “What I would have done….” Sigh. Women, who should be kind and patient with one another, and who should be able to lean on each other for advice and ideas about raising these kiddos, are just plain cruel sometimes.

Anyway, on with the success part.

Hula Girl participated! She has always been a watcher and observer at storytime. Each week we sing “Twinkle, Twinkle” and do the hand motions. There is also a “Let’s get Ready for Storytime” song. I have tried to move her arms and hands along with the others for a while now, but she isn’t really interested. However, all this week, she’s been wanting to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle” at home and she’s been practicing the hand motions. We do it at every meal, and at least 10 other times throughout the day. Apparently all that practice boosted her confidence, because when it was time for “Twinkle, Twinkle”, she was ready. She had her little hands up and made the best little diamond she could possibly make. It looked like she was clenching her fists together, but she tried!

And when it was time to get the shakers, she walked over to Miss Kirsten but didn’t take a shaker. Evie asked her mom to come with her, and I suggested that she show Hula Girl what to do. She happily agreed, but then Hula Girl still wouldn’t reach in and take one. I had to go help her with that. I think next week, given the opportunity, she’ll know what to do. But when it was time to put the shakers away, I said, “Go put your shaker back in the box!” and she ran over there and put it in, then danced in the middle of the carpet until I asked her to come sit down. That’s my girl!

Of course, she chose her same spot, on the “U”.

After the official storytime was over, we were coloring (again-success! Hula Girl got to color as long as she wanted- she didn’t try to stick a crayon in her mouth!) and the moms were talking more than usual. Another mom and I were talking to Evie’s mom about her pregnancy (she’s due in June). The other mom has an almost-2-year-old boy. She is new to the storytime, but she was very friendly and outgoing. I finally got up the courage to talk a little more to her after we got out of the storytime room, and I asked her how she meets people and/or finds activities in the area, since we’re new and I’ve had very little success. She said she’s newer and has faced the same struggles, and that she’s thinking of just starting her own playgroup. YES! She’s also a member at the Y (we’re planning to become members soon, too), and she said there’s a lot going on there. Another YES!

We exchanged numbers and she just texted me asking if we want to join her and her son for a picnic at the playground after next week’s storytime (weather permitting)! I am very very excited, since this is our first real planned “playdate” since we’ve moved here. I sure hope the weather stays nice like it has been for a few weeks.

So, all in all, doh-dee-mime success. Wouldn’t you agree?

 

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